Gold medals and promotion were the rewards for Scotland following their 2-1 victory over Wales in the final of the European Nations Championship II at Glasgow Green.
It was far from plain sailing as the Scots struggled to find their momentum for most of the match and trailed the Welsh by a single goal, but they came to life in the final quarter with goals from Willie Marshall and Alan Forsyth to take the silverware.
“This is an amazing feeling,” said Scotland captain Chris Grassick. “We got what we came for but to get five wins from five is really special. We have a great squad and a great team behind us, and today’s crowd was absolutely amazing.”
Scotland contrived to reserve their poorest performance of the tournament for the first half.
Wales were undoubtedly the early front-runners and were rewarded with an early penalty corner. Level terms were only preserved by a spectacular double save by Scotland goalkeeper Tommy Alexander.
Finally Derek Forsyth’s charges came more into the game and a half chance fell to Lee Morton but the Reading player managed to hit his opponent’s stick rather than the ball.
The Scots finished the first quarter with most of the possession but David Kettle in the Welsh goal was never brought into action.
Early in the second quarter the Scots conceded two penalty corners. At the second James Carson opened the scoring for the visitors with a powerful flick that went into the net off the leg of Alan Forsyth.
Wales were by far the sharper side. The Scots, in contrast, struggled to find any flow to their play and were hindered by a series of unforced errors.
It looked an uphill task for Forsyth’s men when the Scottish defence was again exposed and Owain Dolan-Gray deflected the ball past Alexander, but fortunately for the hosts the strike was disallowed for an earlier infringement.
Within seconds Scotland went on the offensive and won their first penalty corner but Kenny Bain’s powerful strike cannoned off the bar. In the resulting scramble another set piece was awarded, this time Bain’s flick was saved on the line by Daniel Kyriakides to prevent the equaliser.
The dramatic comeback started only three minutes into the final quarter. At another penalty corner Willie Marshall’s low drag flick was half stopped by a defender but the ball still found its way into the back of the net.
The Scots’ tails were now up. Forsyth had a chance for the lead but his reverse-stick effort flew just wide of the target.
But the Scots were not to be denied the ultimate reward. Forsyth was again given the ball in space in the Welsh circle and he needed no further invitation, the Surbiton striker lashing the ball into the net for a 2-1 lead.
A hero then emerged at the other end of the pitch as the Welsh now pressed to get back into the contest. Scots keeper Alexander produced several telling saves to keep his side in front.
In a desperate attempt to save the contest the Welsh coach replaced his goalkeeper with an additional outfield player but the Scots held on. In the final seconds Bain almost made it 3-1 with a breakaway but he was blocked at the top of the circle.
Fittingly, Alan Forsyth won both the top goalscorer and player of the tournament, while Tommy Alexander took the top goalkeeper award.
“We made it hard for ourselves again but we knew if we played our game we would win,” said goal hero Forsyth. “When the ball came to me I just decided to hit it as hard as I could. It was one of the best feelings of my life when it went in. Amazing.”